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Firstly, Melanie explains that the registration of a divorce is a matter of public record and the dissolution of the marriage will be noted. However, the reason for the divorce and the content of the petition is not a matter of public record and the content will only be in the knowledge of the parties themselves, the solicitors acting for both parties, and the Judge who decides whether the divorce should be granted.

You should therefore be reassured that the reason for the separation should not be a matter of public knowledge.

Both parties to a divorce are required to keep all information provided within divorce proceedings completely confidential and their legal representatives should advise them of this. They should not show or provide copies of documents disclosed within divorce and financial proceedings to anyone; this includes to close friends and family.  Any issues with their disclosure should be discussed with your legal representative.

It also seems there’s a big misconception about who is allowed to attend court hearings and whether that information disclosed within those proceedings is to remain private or not and/or whether the media should or will be involved.

The short answer to this question is all court hearings should be conducted in private and the information disclosed within them should also remain private. There are limited exemptions to this rule which legal advice should be sought if a person or a party to court proceedings feels that a disclosure might be necessary. There are also limited times in which the media can be in attendance in court or obtain personal information in respect of a divorce and so again, advice should be sought if there are any concerns about this.

Melanie goes on to explain that it is rare for a divorce case to attract media attention or to be reported in case law, unless of course it is a famous celebrity separation, or where it involves the testing or a change to a principle of law.  However, even those types of cases will be bound by elements of confidentiality and the media are not allowed to enter all courtrooms.  Even where the media are entitled to attend a court hearing, there are often restrictions on reporting their findings, especially in financial cases.

If it is the situation where one party is not legally represented and they wish for someone to attend the court room with them as support, there are rules governing who is allowed to be involved as a “Mackenzie Friend”. An application must have been made to the court before their attendance and the Mackenzie friend is not permitted to contact the court for that person.  Their capacity within that hearing is limited to providing support and taking notes only. Even that Mackenzie Friend will be bound by principles of confidentiality and so will not be able to discuss the case with anyone else either.

If you have any concerns on this subject or wish to discuss a divorce confidentially, feel free to contact Melanie on 0113 3229222.